Water and food security in a future that is not what it used to be Reference No.: N2015.29

In this tenth volume of the Swedish FAO Committee’s series of discussion papers, the significance of water for food security, globally and for different groups of people, is discussed.


The Earth’s water resources are scarce in relation to a booming demand and the availability is geographically and seasonally uneven and uncertain.  Global warming means changes in precipitation pattern with prolonged periods of extremes, among other things. Droughts that last for years represent Society’s New Normal, which, together with continuous demographic change and shifts in food habits, contribute to a radically new context for water and food security and human dignity. The number of undernourished has been reduced while the number of overweight and obese has increased quite rapidly. When the rivers are desiccated and the rains fail, people turn to groundwater, which is now lifted several hundred meters, in different parts of the world. At the same time, significant volumes of water have been used in vain when between one third and one half of the food produced is lost due to poor transport, or increasingly wasted by consumers, among other things.

The Swedish FAO Committee discussion paper presents examples of new forms of collaboration around the world between governments, the private sector and the civil society. Collaboration generates opportunities to develop and practice technical innovations and knowledge. It enhances resource husbandry and the ability to produce and distribute nutritious food. According to the authors the human rights to water and food must be implemented so that the basic needs of vulnerable groups can be met. Similarly, trade in food – which is indirectly trade in water – needs to be facilitated.

Authors: Jan Lundqvist and Jenny Grönwall, Stockholm International Water Institute and Anders Jägerskog, Sida/Swedish Embassy, Jordan.

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